For some homeowners, the long, hot days of summer leaves their lawn looking like a great expanse of overcooked spaghetti. There may be more weeds than grass. If either of these things are true, it’s past time for lawn rejuvenation and intensive yard maintenance. Here are some lawn care guidelines to help a lawn return to being lush, healthy and green:
Thatch and Weed
Pulling out just sprouted purslane, crabgrass or other invaders may be labor intensive, but it’s necessary. Weeds take nutrients away from the grass that should be there. It’s best to pull them out while they’re young, for some weeds develop deep and extensive roots that make them nearly impossible to pull out when they’re older.
Thatch is a snarl of dead leaves, roots and other debris that keep the lawn from getting water, air and nutrients. A homeowner can tell if there’s thatch in their lawn by digging out a piece of turf and checking to see how deep the spongy layer beneath the soil is. A lawn needs to be dethatched when the layer is over an inch thick even when it’s squeezed. The best time to dethatch is during the lawn’s growing season.
Fill in the Potholes
Potholes and depressions are good to look for when the lawn is being dethatched. If the lawn can’t be leveled at the same time, a dab of spray paint on the area will help the homeowner know where the uneven spot is. Make sure to use latex paint.
Check the pH
The lawn’s pH tells a homeowner whether the soil is too acidic or too alkaline. Most plants, including grass, like the pH to be just on the acidic side, which would be about 6.5. A lawn whose pH isn’t right will not get the nutrients it needs and will struggle. The best way to find the pH is to send a sample of the soil to the local cooperative extension. They can tell the homeowner whether the soil needs to be sweetened or acidified.
A lawn should only be fertilized when the homeowner knows what it’s pH should be. A sick lawn can’t handle too much fertilizer or the wrong type of fertilizer.
Add Good Bugs
Even if nutrients are added to the lawn, it won’t do well if there isn’t a strong population of good microbes. They should be found in organic compost and rotted manure. The soil in a lawns should contain two to five percent of this type of organic matter to support good bugs such as certain types of bacteria and viruses.
This aspect of lawn care is related to dethatching the lawn. Often, aeration and dethatching are done at the same time. An aerating machine punches holes into the lawn to allow in oxygen and help the lawn be ready to properly use sunlight and nutrients.
A bag of grass seed usually tells the homeowner to add a certain amount of seed to a certain amount of area, but our professionals at Don King Landscaping, the Longomont landscaping contractor know that the homeowner should overseed. Sometimes, twice as much seed as the instructions state should be added to the soil. This makes sure that there’s a nice, thick cover of grass on a bald spot even if not all of the seeds germinate.
Prepare the area with a thatching rake to break the soil up and make it fluffy. Then add seed to the edges. Broadcast half of the rest of the seed in one direction and half of the rest of the seed in the other direction. Cover it with gardening soil and compost, and broadcast some more seed on top.
It’s also a good idea to know where to overseed. If an area is in thick shade, most types of grass simply won’t grow there. The homeowner needs to consider shade-loving plants such as hosta or bugleweed.
Water seedlings at least twice a day unless the area is getting a lot of rain. Make sure the soil is moist but not soggy. Seeds won’t sprout if soil dries out, and fragile seedlings die. Of course, no one should walk on the area until the grass is well established.
Mow the Right Way
A grass lawn that looks like a field of hay probably shouldn’t be mowed until it’s recovered. To lessen the stress on the grass when it is healthy, the homeowner should let it grow a bit taller than they’re used to then only take off the top third when they mow. Tall grass gets more sunlight, keeps the soil cool and has stronger roots.
Good yard maintenance dictates that old twigs, rotted fruit, leaves and other debris need to be cleaned up regularly. Pests and diseases use debris to overwinter, and too much debris on a lawn is just unsightly. On the other hand, when the lawn is mown the grass clippings should be left behind. This gets nutrients into the lawn.
Of course, this is a job of work, so a homeowner in the Front Range Colorado area shouldn’t hesitate to call in Don King Landscaping, the premier Boulder landscaping contractor to help a lawn return to health and stay that way.